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Praça do Comércio, Lisbon, Portugal.
Praça do Comércio, Lisbon, Portugal. | © Jack Malipan Travel Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
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Most Impressive Buildings in Lisbon

Picture of Nina Santos
Updated: 3 August 2018
From old to new, modern to partially collapsed, and bright colors to gray stones, visitors can expect anything but uniformity when it comes to the architecture in Lisbon. Beautiful and interesting, must-see buildings are scattered in every corner of the city, so architect-lovers won’t be bored when visiting. This list highlights some of the most remarkable and dramatic buildings among them all.

Praça do Comércio

Building
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Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal
Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal | © Magdalena Dral / Alamy Stock Photo
The plaza square attracts tourists and photographers as the largest square in the city and one close to the river. The bright yellow buildings that surround the square also make this landmark unique. It also goes by the name Terreiro do Paço and is called “Commerce Square” in English. The area once held the royal palace after the Portuguese Royalty left the Castelo de São Jorge, but the palace was destroyed in the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 and the square was built in its wake. Today, the buildings that circle the square hold a few government buildings, including the tourism office, one of the hottest Lisbon night clubs, a number of restaurants, and a sophisticated winery, in addition to much more.
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Castelo de São Jorge

Building
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Castelo de Sao Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal.
Castelo de Sao Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal. | © JOHN KELLERMAN / Alamy Stock Photo
The Castelo de São Jorge is one of the most emblematic landmarks in Lisbon, along with the sunshine yellow Praça do Comércio. Built in the 11th century, the castle was once a fortification used by the Moors when they ruled the Iberian Peninsula. It was converted into a palace after the land was reconquered by the Portuguese monarchy in the 13th century, and served as the home and entertainment centre for the Portuguese royalty during the Age of Discoveries. Towards the end of the 16th century, the castle became a military fort once again, and today it is one of the city’s most loved ruins, where visitors can walk through a courtyard, enjoy views of the 25 de Abril Bridge and Tagus River, and experience a museum filled with ancient treasures like dishes, pots, currency, tiles, and more.
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Mon - Sun:
9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly, Kid Friendly

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours

Atmosphere:

Indoors

Convento do Carmo

Ruins
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Ruins of Carmo church in Lisbon, Portugal.
Ruins of Carmo church in Lisbon, Portugal. | © Krasnevsky / Alamy Stock Photo
In Lisbon, a trend of walking through ruined buildings left by Lisbon’s most devastating earthquake will soon be noticed. The Convento do Carmo is yet another, and one of the most dramatic examples to boot. Open from Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the fall and spring and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer, the convent walls, Gothic arches, and attached museum attract many tourists looking for breathtaking architecture and emotional history. Built in the late 14th century, the convent was once one of the most lavish, affluent, and influential religious buildings in Lisbon. Located in Chiado, the street leading to the Convento do Carmo begins at the Rua Garret (a street filled with cafés, trendy boutiques, and restaurants), and the outside of the Convent can be enjoyed from the top of the Santa Justa Lift too.
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Mon - Sat:
10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Services & Activities:

Guided Tours

Atmosphere:

Indoors

Estação do Rossio

Train Station
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Estação do Rossio Lisbon, Portugal.
Estação do Rossio Lisbon, Portugal. | © Hans Blossey / Alamy Stock Photo
Designed by architect José Luís Monteiro in the late 19th century, the train station reflects typical Portuguese Neo-Manueline architecture. The Estação do Rossio may not receive as many travelers as the Oriente Station, but it does receive many tourists who wish to gaze at the splendidly designed arches, the beautiful clock tower, and the ceiling inside. This is also the station to leave from when traveling to Sintra, one of Europe’s loveliest cities. Fun tip: the Estação do Rossio is also one of the three locations where a Starbucks can be found in Lisbon.
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Mon - Sun:
12:00 am

Atmosphere:

Indoors

São Roque Church

Cathedral, Church
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São Roque Church, Lisbon, Portugal.
São Roque Church, Lisbon, Portugal. | © JOHN KELLERMAN / Alamy Stock Photo
From the oldest cathedral in Lisbon, head to Bairro Alto and see the most beautiful cathedral in Lisbon. Constructed in intervals, the church was designed in Rome and transported to Lisbon where it was assembled. Although quite plain from the outside, the inside of the church is one of the most exquisite sights in the city.
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Sé de Lisboa, Lisbon’s Medieval Cathedral

Cathedral, Church, Mosque
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Sé de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.
Sé de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal. | © Sofia Pereira / StockPhotosArt - Landmarks / Alamy Stock Photo
Roman, Gothic, and Baroque architecture all influence the structure known as the Sé de Lisboa, or the Lisbon Cathedral. This is the oldest cathedral in the city, built in the 1100s over the spot that once held a Moorish Mosque. An excavation project towards the back eastern side of the cathedral unearthed some Moorish structures, which can be visited today. The most gaze-worthy parts of the Sé de Lisboa are the towers, rose windows, the altar, and the small side chapels.
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National Pantheon of Santa Engracia

Church
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National Pantheon in Lisbon, Portugal.
National Pantheon in Lisbon, Portugal. | ©  Slawek Staszczuk / Alamy Stock Photo
Lisbon cityscapes of Alfama always show the National Pantheon, which is rather hard to miss in this part of the city. Also known by its original name, the Church of Santa Engrácia, the original church was built in the 1600s but vandalized in 1630. The restoration project, which took over 300 years to complete, was said to be cursed by the man who was erroneously convicted and murdered for the buildings vandalism. The National Pantheon is centrally located, near the site of the famous Feira da Ladra, and stands out nonetheless. The Baroque architecture pairs with some Greek-inspired decor to make it a unique building in Lisbon.
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Tue - Sun:
10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Services & Activities:

Worship services

Atmosphere:

Indoors

Igreja de São Vicente de Fora

Church
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Sao Vicente de Fora Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal.
Sao Vicente de Fora Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal. | © Jose Elias / StockPhotosArt - Lisbon / Alfama and Castelo / Alamy Stock Photo
Sitting slightly uphill from the National Pantheon is the Igreja de São Vicente de Fora, yet another magnificent church in this truly Catholic city. It was built in the 17th century and also serves as a monastery and the final resting place to some of Portugal’s monarch families. It was built on the orders of Portugal’s first king and designed to reflect Romanesque architecture. The exterior and interior are both stunning and include the pantheon, Baroque altarpieces, a collection of Baroque azulejo tiles (which may be the largest collection in the world), and a few statues. The side and top exterior of the Igreja de São Vicente de Fora can be easily seen from the Portas do Sol viewpoint, along with the National Pantheon, but nothing beats getting up close and personal.
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Mon - Sat:
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sun - None:
8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Services & Activities:

Worship services

Atmosphere:

Indoors

Campo Pequeno

Building, Cinema
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Campo Pequeno, Lisbon, Portugal.
Campo Pequeno, Lisbon, Portugal. | © byvalet / Alamy Stock Photo
North from the historical center is the Campo Pequeno Arena, a bull-fighting ring that also houses a shopping center with food courts and one of Lisbon’s most decorative cinemas. During the bull-fighting off-season, the arena itself turns into an event and concert hall, hosting Lisbon’s Chocolate Festival, in addition to other activities. It was built in the late 1800s and inspired by both Madrid’s Bullring and some Moorish designs. Anyone wanting to experience a Portuguese bullfight—which is different from a Spanish bullfight in that the bull is not killed—can buy tickets at the Campo Pequeno website. Otherwise, go for the views, the shopping, a bite to eat, and/or a movie.
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Jerónimos Monastery

Monastery
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Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal.
Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon, Portugal. | © Photicon / Alamy Stock Photo
Hop on one of Lisbon’s historic trams or city buses to reach Belém, a trip that takes about 30 minutes. Both forms of transportation stop in front of the Jerónimos Monastery, one of the landmarks that has placed Belém on many traveling maps. Once the home of Portuguese monks and shelter to many Portuguese explorers, the Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in the 16th century. The first architect to work on the Monastery was Diogo de Boitaca, the son-in-law of the main architect responsible for the grand Batalha Monastery. One of the first things visitors to the Monastery may notice is its length, which is impressive at least. After entering, the hallways, cathedrals, and courtyard are spellbinding. The Jerónimos Monastery is the final resting place of several important figures in Portugal’s history, including poets Luis de Camões and Fernando Pessoa, and explorer Vasco da Gama.
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Belém Tower

Building
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Belem Tower on the Tagus River, Lisbon, Portugal.
Belem Tower on the Tagus River, Lisbon, Portugal. | © Fabiano Mesquita / Alamy Stock Photo
Built in the 16th century, Belém Tower has been ornamented with the symbols of the house of King Manuel I. These include the thick rope that encircles the castle and terminates in elegant nodes and crosses at different angles. The tower was converted into a prison during the Spanish invasion of Portugal in the late 16th-century, and upper class criminals and political dissidents were kept in the dungeons. Belém Tower provided protection for the Portuguese capital which was vulnerable to attacks from pirates and neighboring states. Today, the castle is a key symbol of Lisbon, and serves as a reminder of the former power of the Portuguese on land and at sea.
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Mon - Sun:
10:00 am - 6:30 pm

Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Wheelchair)

Services & Activities:

Entrance Fee

Atmosphere:

Historical Landmark

MAAT

Art Museum, Architecture Museum, Science Museum
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MAAT, the museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, Portugal
MAAT, the museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, Portugal | © Kim Kaminski / Alamy Stock Photo
If there’s only time to visit one museum, the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology is a fantastic choice and represents Lisbon in a totally unique way. The building’s design symbolises local maritime history and doubles as a miradouro over the Tagus River. Inaugurated in the fall of 2016, it brings together entrepreneurs and forward thinkers from many backgrounds whose exhibits represent key elements in modern Portuguese culture, specifically architecture and technology.
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Wed - Sun:
11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Mon - None:
11:00 am - 7:00 pm

Oriente Station

Train Station
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Gare do Oriente (Orient Station), Lisbon, Portugal
Gare do Oriente (Orient Station), Lisbon, Portugal | © Sofia Pereira / StockPhotosArt - Urban Landscape / Alamy Stock Photo
The bright white and arched Oriente Station is the main entrance and exit for travelers heading in and out of Lisbon by train and bus. Locally, it is called the Gare do Oriente. The maritime theme of Expo ’98 can be seen mirrored in the station’s wave-like beams at the entrance. It is comprised into two levels; the ground level, where the buses will be found as well as cafés, banks, and shops, the bottom level is the entrance of the metro and small markets, and the upper level is for trains.
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Pavilhão de Portugal

Building
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Pavilhão de Portugal
Pavilhão de Portugal | © John Mendes / Alamy Stock Photo
The Pavilhão de Portugal, or Pavilion of Portugal, is a perfect vision of defying gravity. Designed by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira, who also designed the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum in Porto, it was intended to look like a curved sheet of paper sitting between two pillars. The amazing roof, which architect-lovers may revel to stand underneath, weighs an incredible 1, 400 tonnes. The Pavilhão de Portugal is connected to a museum belonging to the University of Lisbon.
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Vasco da Gama Tower

Hotel
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Vasco da Gama Tower
Vasco da Gama Tower | © Marcio Nobrega / Alamy Stock Photo
Without a doubt, the Vasco da Gama Tower (Torre Vasco da Gama) is among the more noteworthy landmarks in Parque das Nações, not only for the beautiful architecture but also as the tallest skyscraper in the city. Standing at 145 meters tall, it is a striking building originally intended to be an observation deck but later converted into a luxury hotel. You will find it shining by the river behind Oriente Station. Unfortunately, only guests of the hotel are allowed into the observation deck at the top.
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